Climate change likely to pay havoc with people's lives

Y.S.Rana | July 02, 2019 10:43 PM

CHANDIGARH: Climate change is likely to make rainfall erratic,  lead to rising sea’s water and make extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and heat wave as the currently sweeping large parts of India shows—frequent, according to the latest report of the United Nations body to assess climate science, the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).   

That is the warning also substantiated by N H Ravindranath, the scientist who is tasked with preparing the first national study on the impacts of climate change, even as he describes how unprepared India is in terms of data and planning. A number of reports has been gathered in the debris of files warned that communities and livelihoods nationwide have already been affected by climate change.   

India, where one in every seventh person on the planet lives, has no national study on the impact of climate change, although about 600 million people are at risk from its effects.

This is set to change over the next few months of 2019. Ravindranath, a climate scientist at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is currently heading a study that will assess the impact of climate change across regions and sectors. His assessment, which is likely to be the bedrock that will inform climate-related policy, will be submitted to the Indian government and the United Nations (UN).

Human activities have already caused warming of one degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, according to a 2018 IPCC report. By 2030, or latest by mid-century, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In March 2019, Ravindranath headed the first study that analysed climate change in India’s Himalayan Region (IHR). The study found that all 12 Indian states studied–including Assam, Mizoram and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)--are “highly vulnerable”, with little capacity to resist or cope.

In 2018, Ravindranath, along with other researchers, also helped the government of Meghalaya assess the damage to its forests. Over 16 years to 2016, nearly half of Meghalaya’s forests experienced an “increase in disturbance”, and around a quarter are now “highly vulnerable” to the impact of climate change, the study found.

Ravindranath also pointed to the lack of climate data by district and the need to make these data more accessible to farmers, so they can be prepared for what is coming. In a country like India, where agriculture is the livelihood of a majority of the people, we still do not have a detailed assessment of the impact of climate change on rice, wheat, maize, jowar, finger millet, pulses etc. We have broad studies available on the decline (in overall production). There is a need to have plan for each sector like Agriculture, Forests, Health and infrastructure and then to identify key institutions those will oversee the project and provided with enough resources to continue the work, says Mr Ravindranath.

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